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Swelling of the arm after breast cancer surgery

Arm Swelling After Breast Cancer Surgery: Understanding, Prevention and Management

Surgery to remove a tumor in the breast area is one of the main methods of treating breast cancer. However, after surgery, some patients experience an unpleasant complication - swelling of the arm. This phenomenon requires careful attention to prevent its occurrence and effectively manage it after surgery.

Causes of hand swelling

Swelling of the arm after breast cancer surgery can be caused by various factors. One of the main ones is the removal of lymph nodes during surgery, which can disrupt the normal lymphatic flow in the arm. This, in turn, can lead to fluid accumulation and swelling, which is how lymphedema or lymphedema of the arm develops.

Prevention of edema

Prevention of swelling is key to managing postoperative complications. It is important to include the following measures in your treatment plan:

  • Lymphatic drainage exercises: Regular exercise to improve lymphatic circulation can reduce the risk of swelling.
  • Using a compression bandage or sleeve: Compression bandages can help maintain proper lymphatic flow and reduce swelling.
  • Physical activity: Moderate physical activity helps normalize lymphatic drainage, but you should consult your doctor before starting exercise.

Edema management

If swelling of the arm develops after surgery, it is important to consult a doctor immediately. Your doctor may recommend the following approaches:

  • Physical Therapy: Specialized physical therapy treatments can help restore lymphatic drainage.
  • Massage: A gentle massage from a qualified professional can help improve circulation and reduce swelling.
  • Wearing compression garments: Special compression garments may be prescribed to support lymphatic drainage


Swelling of the arm after breast cancer surgery is a serious complication that requires an integrated approach to prevention and treatment. Timely measures, including lymphatic drainage exercises, the use of compression bandages and attention to your own physical condition, will help reduce the risk of swelling and improve the quality of life of patients after surgery.


The ANGIOLIF Vascular Center has accumulated extensive experience in the non-surgical treatment of patients with arm swelling after mastectomy using complex decongestive therapy or CDT. You can view the results of treatment for lymphedema by following the link.

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